Fitness & Health
Leave a Comment

Mark Laws’ review of NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training

man working out in the gym

Mark Laws, Future Fit Training’s PT Master Trainer shares his review of NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. Below is Mark’s full review giving you a thorough idea of what to expect from the book.

In their own words, “the NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Third Edition, provides guidelines for the complex process of designing safe, effective, and goal-specific resistance, aerobic, plyometric, and speed training programs for clients of all ages and fitness levels”.

This book acts as a study guide for those wanting to successfully complete the NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) exam, so it is extremely thorough, in-depth, and informative, with contributions from some highly regarded and credible educators.

Of course, if you are already qualified/certified as a Personal Trainer with a different organisation, this book is well worth having on your shelf as an educational resource because of the amount of content it contains.

I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2006, but I have this book on my shelf and use it regularly. Personal training is such a wide and diverse field that it is impossible to know everything, and it always pays to either add a new string to your bow or to expand upon any area that you are already confident about. After almost 17 years I am still refining my methods, expanding my knowledge, and improving my ability to be a Personal Trainer.

There are 4 main areas of content in this book (Client consultation and assessmentProgram planningTechniques of exercise, and Safety, emergency procedures, and legal issues) which are covered in 25 individual chapters – each written by some of the best educators in the industry (a full list of the chapter titles can be seen at the bottom of this blog). To say that the range and depth of the content are thorough would be an understatement.

A book review that only focuses on the strengths of a book would not be very credible, so here is a very short list of weaknesses…and to be honest, it is quite a short list. 

As great as it is to see some ‘business’ content in this book, the ‘Business of Personal Training’ section is only 10 pages and doesn’t really go into much detail on any important or relevant business topics. However, the fact that it appears in the Appendix as opposed to being a full chapter tells me that this is almost bonus material on top of all the theory and practical content. No bonus is a bad bonus, but I would suggest that in the future it would be a good idea to add a 5th area of content (business) which could have a handful of chapters providing some business content with the same depth as every other chapter.

I would also like to see the topic of ‘communication’ covered in more detail seeing as every single interaction with every single client can be utilised to ensure adherence to your programming, attendance to your sessions, and referrals to your services.

Other than those two omissions (which I expect to be added to future editions – hint hint) this is a fantastic book, which is a must-have for any Personal Trainer whether you have been doing the job for 2 minutes, 2 years, or 20 years.

Chapter list

  1. Structure and Function of the Muscular, Nervous, and Skeletal Systems
    Jared W. Coburn, PhD, and Moh H. Malek, PhD
  2. Structure and Function of the Cardiorespiratory System
    Michael R. Esco, PhD, and Moh H. Malek, PhD
  3. Bioenergetics
    Carmine Grieco, PhD, and N. Travis Triplett, PhD
  4. Biomechanics
    Douglas W. Powell, PhD, and Megan A. Bryanton Jones, PhD
  5. Responses and Adaptations to Resistance Training
    Michael D. Roberts, PhD, and Kevin W. McCurdy, PhD
  6. Responses and Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training
    Don Melrose, PhD, and David J. Heikkinen, PhD
  7. Nutrition Concepts and Strategies
    Eric R. Helms, PhD, and Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD
  8. Exercise Psychology, Goal Setting, and Motivation
    E. Whitney G. Moore, PhD, and Brian T. Gearity, PhD
  9. Client Consultation and Health Appraisal
    Robert Linkul, MS, and Chat Williams, MS
  10. Fitness Evaluation, Selection, and Administration
    Robert Lockie, PhD, and Laura Kobar, MS, MC
  11. Fitness Evaluation Protocols and Norms
    David H. Fukuda, PhD, and Kristina L. Kendall, PhD
  12. Flexibility and Warm-up Concepts and Bodyweight and Stability Ball Exercise Technique
    Nick Tumminello, Jonathan Mike, PhD, and Jay Dawes, PhD
  13. Resistance Exercise Technique
    Ronald L. Snarr, PhD, and Alexis Batrakoulis, MS
  14. Cardiovascular Exercise Technique
    Benjamin H. Reuter, PhD, and Margaret T. Jones, PhD
  15. Resistance Training Program Design
    Brad J. Schoenfeld, PhD, and Ronald L. Snarr, PhD
  16. Aerobic Training Program Design
    Mike Martino, PhD, and Nicole C. Dabbs, PhD
  17. Plyometric and Speed Training Program Design and Technique
    Jason C. Casey, PhD, and Chris A. Bailey, PhD
  18. Clients who Are Preadolescent, Older, or Pregnant
    Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, and Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD
  19. Clients with Nutritional or Metabolic Concerns
    Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, and Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD
  20. Clients with Cardiovascular or Respiratory Conditions
    Cindy M. Kugler, MS, Steven M. Laslovich, PhD, and Paul Sorace, MS
  21. Clients with Orthopaedic, Injury, or Rehabilitation Concerns
    Morey J. Kolber, PhD, PT, Dean Robert Somerset, BSc, and Michael G. Miller, PhD, ATC
  22. Clients with Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, or Cerebral Palsy
    Gavin Colquitt, EdD, and Kelli M. Clark, DPT
  23. Resistance Training for Clients who are Athletes
    Joseph J. Bonyai, MEd, and Tyler D. Williams, PhD
  24. Facility and Equipment Layout and Maintenance
    Jamie L. Aslin, MS, and Chat Williams, MS
  25. Professional, Legal, and Ethical Responsibilities of Personal Trainers
    Anthony A. Abbott, EdD, and Georgia H. Goslee, JD

Appendix    The Business of Personal Training
Mark A. Nutting, BS and Robert Linkul, MS

This post was written by Mark Laws at Future Fit Training.

NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training book cover

Adapted from:

NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training

Editors: Brad J. Schoenfeld and Ronald L. Snarr

Header photo by Bruno Bueno

This entry was posted in: Fitness & Health


Human Kinetics is the world's leading information provider on physical activity and health. This blog is operated by the European division of Human Kinetics, based in Leeds in the United Kingdom. In this blog we aim to bring you our latest products, news on our existing products and articles and information on health, exercise, fitness, PE, nutrition and much, much more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.